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Conservation International CEO Statement on US Lifting Elephant Trophy Ban With Two African Countries

November 16, 2017

Reports that the Trump Administration intends to revoke bans on the import of sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia are highly disturbing. This is the wrong move at the wrong time for protecting Africa’s wildlife. It is baffling that this action would be a priority at this time.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must administer the Endangered Species Act based on sound science. The original ban was enacted based on detailed findings on the condition of elephant populations on the ground, and it strains credulity to suggest that local science-based factors have been met to justify this change. What’s more, this move sends a dangerous signal to poachers and to our allies about the commitment of the United States to ending the trade in ivory and endangered animal products.

Illegal ivory trade has been shown to be linked to trans-boundary criminal syndicates and terror networks, and the world has taken meaningful strides in recent years to save African elephants from poaching. In recent months, China and the United Kingdom — two of the world’s largest ivory importers — have announced plans to close their markets. Meanwhile, countries across Africa — from Gabon to Botswana — have committed to closing their own ivory markets and have taken steps to reduce or eliminate their ivory stockpiles.

The United States has been a strong leader and moral authority on shutting down the trafficking of ivory. Though the United States ivory ban remains in effect, the Trump Administration is moving in the wrong direction with this new trophy exemption. I urge the Trump Administration to reconsider this decision with full public comment and participation.


About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International and its groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign, and follow Conservation International’s work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.